Community Spotlight: Annette Pronk, Insights on Building Resilient Communities

What does a resilient community look like?

Living Cully has been re-asking this question in the wake of the five-alarm scrapyard fire that affected our neighborhood in March. We turned to Annette Pronk, a Cully neighbor who has taken Neighborhood Emergency Team training, to seek her experience in building community and preparing for disaster.

“Community isn’t just a large group of people,” Annette began, clarifying that for her, community comes from relationships as strong as extended family. Having left home in the mid-west to move to Portland, and coming from an immigrant family and community, Annette understands the importance of building strong relationship with neighbors.

“We need each other,” she emphasized.

Annette builds strong relationships through connectivity, whether that means finding common ground over a shared interest or connecting people with resources that she has access to.

She got involved with the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET), a 30-hour course that teaches people how to assist their neighbors during emergencies, after attending a Living Cully-sponsored earthquake preparedness event. At the workshop, Portland Fire and Rescue spoke, sharing that when a large disaster strikes, like the predicted Cascadia earthquake, the fire department and police will not be available to help individual people – it will be neighbors relying on neighbors.

“I didn’t want to be somebody who in the event of a disaster didn’t know what to do,” said Annette.

However, Annette is well aware that programs like NET are typically not accessible for many people due to language, time, economic resources, or other factors. She sees it as her job to share the resources and knowledge she learns with her neighbors.

“I see myself as a conduit of resources and information,” explained Annette. “How can I bridge that sense of preparation for other people?”

Annette takes a similar approach to other projects, embodying her definition of community by seeking common connections, and then using that as a way to share knowledge and resources. For example, Annette loves the environment. She is a Master Recycler, has a platinum level Backyard Habitat Certification, and adopted the green streets outside her home. Working with the Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park redevelopment committee, Annette hopes to identify ways the park design can alleviate barriers to recycling.

“I don’t want to assume that [the environment] is a connector for everyone, but it’s an avenue,” said Annette. Considering everyone has different point of connection, Annette plans to work with Janet Keating, Oak Leaf Manager, and Ali Poli, Service Assistant, to find ways to weave together anti-poverty and recycling.

We can all learn a lot from the example that Annette provides for us about how to build relationships that we can rely on when disaster – no matter the scale – strikes.

Thank you Annette for all you do in Cully and beyond!

Want to get involved in emergency preparedness in Cully? Contact Jess Faunt at, 971-770-2695.


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